Warnings: bad grammar and multiple mistakes
Disclaimer: most of the characters are not mine, but all the mistakes are.
Loki slowly woke up, tensed and stretched every muscle in his body, from the shoulders down to the tip toes of his feet. It felt refreshing.
“Good morning, sir. It is 7 am Eastern Time, the weather in NYC is 71 degrees Fahrenheit, partly cloudy, with 30% of precipitation in the afternoon. “
The voice was definitely male, had nice tone and accent, but with strange echo to it, as if it poured from all the sides at once and bounced off some metal surface, and was clearly unfamiliar. Whoever it was, Loki was certain the person must have watched him closely and noticed change in his breathing as the greeting sounded before he actually opened his eyes.
Loki pushed himself up on the elbows and looked around.
The room was spacious with high ceilings, sparsely placed pieces of furniture, light walls lacking any decorations but some sorts of accomplishments memorabilia, and a huge window stretching from one wall to another, opening an incredible view on the city below. The residence was located on the top of a very tall building, overlooking other skyscrapers and basking majestically in the soft glow of the morning sun, leaving all the dark shadows down below. Loki would have admired the view for quite a while if not a single small problem- he had no memory of this place.
To add a bit to his grave embarrassment, he realized that under a soft purple wool blanket he was absolutely, as at the day of his birth, naked.
Deep blush crawled on the Prince’s face. The situation was not only uncommon, but completely unacceptable by all reasons, and demanded some sort of reaction. He just couldn’t decide which.
Loki concentrated. Last thing he remembered was humans applauding him after he stopped that dreadful asteroid, but after that- only blur and blackness. No matter how hard he tried to recall the events of the last night, he failed over and over again. So, Loki postponed it for a while, deciding to allow nature to take its time.
He slowly stood up from the sofa, leaning on the small glass table for support, and gave himself a moment until his head stopped spinning. He was still tired and hurt, but mostly thirsty and hungry- a good sign that his body had recuperated overnight.
“I will inform Mr. Stark of your condition immediately.”
Loki jumped in surprise- by now he had completely forgotten about the person. He looked around once, then twice, but saw no one.
“Who are you, where am I, show yourself at once!”
“Pardon me, sir, I should have introduced myself. My name is Jarvis; I’m an operating system of this penthouse. The residence you are currently staying in belongs to Mr. Antony Howard Stark, you were brought here yesterday after the incident with the asteroid, unconscious, but in the short moment of clarity gave full consent to stay here until you recover and receive necessary medical help.”
With that Loki looked down to his hands, discovering that they were carefully dressed in some sort of Midgardian bandages. He removed the cloth carefully, expecting excruciating pain or at least great discomfort, but there was nothing- his hands were healed, with new light pinkish skin covering his palms. Loki smiled to himself, checking new skin’s sensitivity to the touch - his body’s healing powers had never let him down.
“As to your last request, I’m afraid I am unable to comply because I do not possess physical body.”
Loki dropped discarded bandage and stared at the point on the wall where he believed the man’s face should have been. Now that is an explanation why the voice was freaking him out every single time.
“You are a ghost then?”
He stood in his place, unmoving, waiting for a gust of ice cold wind or a feel of fingers crawling up his body, or anything else that according to legends ghosts were supposed to do, but nothing happened.
“I am not a ghost, sir. I am an Artificial Intelligence unit, created and solely owned by Mr. Stark.”
Loki felt his shoulders relax, “So, you are some sort of a machine.”
The voice thought for a second, then “Yes.”
“Um…Could you be so kind and tell me- briefly- what exactly happened last night?”
“I will gladly demonstrate you visual rendition of the events, sir.”
With that a part of the wall detached itself and slid to the side, revealing a skillfully concealed screen. It reminded Loki of similar screens he saw at the base, those that showed moving pictures of men and women and sometimes animals engaging in all sorts of activities, only this one was completely invisible when in off mode, and was enormous.
When it flickered and electricity brought it to life, Loki thought for a second that once in the future he would love to acquire one of those- not for himself, no, he would barely find any use for it, but for the guys at the base. Not that it was of outmost necessity for them, of course- but he would give a lot to see Jay Jay’s reaction to the new toy.
The pictures on the board started to move and Loki realized with weird fascination, that he was in fact staring at himself of the past. He watched silently, as the meteorite on the screen passed in slow motion through the city, leaving a trail of devastation and debris, descended onto the streets and stopped, meeting a green energy shield that Loki constructed an evening before.
The prince gazed at the action, mesmerized, reliving the moments and almost feeling the heat of the rock burning skin on his face.
Then came the applause and when the dust and smoke settled a little, he saw himself, completely lost and disoriented, shaking like a leaf in the strong wind. He was surrounded by the crowd of humans, who stared, applauded and were using their mobile communication devices to take pictures of him.
Loki blinked rapidly, remembering the irritating flashes that bothered his dried and itching eyes to no end.
And then the man in the suit appeared. Simply landed right in the middle of the crowd, as if shielding Loki from the people around him. The man glanced around slowly, and threw his hands up in a gesture of peace- or victory- Loki wasn’t sure, Jay showed him once but they seemed completely identical, and the crowd around them cheered.
The suit was badly battered, ruined in some areas, in other strewing sparkles or leaking dark viscid liquid, all covered in cracks and dimples, and yet the man inside it carried himself around as if the suit was a regal clothing.
The man continued to communicate with the people- mostly through gestures, petted some arms stretched out to him, waved to the parts of the horde, and even blew a kiss or two to the women. The way he moved around, the way he handled the attention meant only that he was no stranger to fame.
And that his ego could challenge that one of Thor’s.
Suddenly Loki’s image on the screen stumbled and collapsed, exactly at the moment of Loki’s last existing memories faded- but the unconscious body never reached the ground, as the man in the suit’s reaction was fast as lightning - he dashed to the prince and caught him in his arms. Several moments later the man- Iron Man, how the Midgardians called him apparently, ballooned up into the sky with dead weight Loki scooped in his arms.
The screen blackened, as the recording ended, and Loki was about to protest when the screen came back online and showed another picture, less colorful and taken outside the terrace of the penthouse.
As soon as Iron Man landed on the balcony, Loki came back to senses and a short argument followed. It was mostly about Loki’s necessity to get medical help from one of Midgardian healing facilities. Loki ultimately won the argument, as Iron Man walked him through the hall and lowered onto the sofa, then threw hands in the air as a sign of resignation and disappeared from the screen. Two minutes later- Loki could actually see the time countdown in a small row of digits in the lower right side of the screen- the door in the room opened and a woman ran in, tall, slender, with reddish golden hair flowing down her shoulders. She rushed to the prince’s bedside and made what looked like an attempt to assess the prince’s physical condition.
To Loki’s surprise, the image was accompanied by a series of iridescent blue circles and rounds and graphics that seemed like calculations of his heart rate, breathe rate and other vitals. The prince’s assumption was confirmed when he saw a model of his own skeleton in the upper left side of the screen. He heard Jarvis’s modulated voice announce that the prince’s charts looked normal and required no emergency medical attention. Soon after that the woman sighed and redirected her efforts to the Aesir’s burned palms.
After the palms were properly cleaned and bandaged, the woman collected all medical supplies and exited the room.
Soon after that the screen went blank and turned off.
Loki breathed out and thanked Jarvis. He only had time to collect his thoughts that much when he smelled the aroma of coffee and heard footsteps outside of the room. He fled to the cover of the sofa, wrapping the big blanket around his shamefully naked body just in time for the door to open.
Two humans entered the room- a woman from the recording of the night before, still beautiful with her shiny golden hair and slender figure, holding two cups of simmering liquid in her hands, and a man who seemed completely unfamiliar.
His voice though Loki recognized in instant.
“Good morning, sunshine, how do you feel?”
Both humans stared at the prince in question, who did his best to look regal and dignified while wrapped in the blanket and strategically hiding himself behind the sofa.
Then the woman frowned.
“Tony, why is he naked?”
“Why is he naked? He was fully clothed when I left.”
“I don’t like what you are implying and I have nothing to do with it…”
“I am not implying, I’m simply asking a reasonable question…”
“Well, your question is implying and I…”
Loki cleared his throat.
“Forgive my appearance, but I might have overstrained myself yesterday so much that I am yet unable to perform magic again.”
He saw puzzled looks on the people’s faces and felt necessity to explain, “My armor is mostly procured by magical means, so right now I am…”
“Does this mean that you are actually naked most of the time?”
While Loki mused on the plausible answer to the woman’s inquiry, Tony silently thought whether he should love or hate Pepper for that- the conclusion was very logical and thus even more arousing. This of course was unacceptable in his lack of suit coverage. Thus Stark decided to distract himself.
“Performance issues? It happens. You know, one out of every five…”
The man shrugged, pinned to the parquet by the woman’s exasperate glance. “What? I’m just saying…”
While Pepper gave Tony both cups in not so well concealed attempt to shut him up, Loki left an offensive innuendo unanswered and cruised from behind the sofa towards the humans, holding one arm around himself protecting a fragile construction of the blanket, and extending another arm towards Pepper in a greeting gesture.
How did the guy manage to look elegant in such ridiculous situation completely escaped Tony’s understanding of the universe, but he surely started to like and envy the guy even more.
“Loki Odinson, at your service.”
Pepper smiled and handed out her hand for a hand shake, “Pepper Pots, nice to meet you.”
Loki tilted his head and caught Pepper’s hand into his, bringing it up for a swift kiss.
“My lady, I don’t know how to express my eternal gratitude for the kindly assistance you offered to my injuries yesterday.”
Pepper blushed and lowered her eyes, fighting away a smile, “You are welcome, Loki.” Then she suddenly gasped and stared at his hands, “My god, your hands, they are…”
Loki demonstrated the almost healed skin, “They are all right, thanks to your troubles.”
“Hey, want to kiss my hand too? I helped.”
“More like got in my way.”
“In the way of free falling to the ground?”
“And whom do I owe that favor in the first place?” A perfectly well arched eyebrow made Tony growl in irritation, but before he could argue, Loki extended his arm, “Antony Stark, I presume?”
Tony had no choice but to shake it. “You presume right. Loki, isn’t it?”
Tony lost himself for a second in those bottomless icy blue eyes, and with delay realized that Loki was still holding his hand.
The grip wasn’t as bone crushing as Tony would’ve expected from the person who alone handled an asteroid, but it was strong enough to demonstrate Loki’s power- and send waves of heat through Tony’s body. Stark had no other choice, but to retaliate.
“See anything you like?”
Loki kept staring at him, unblinking.
“Well…” He took his time to give Tony a good look from head to toes, than tilted his head and smiled. “I never would have thought that without the suit you are so short.”
Tony’s chocolate eyes lit up with fury as he withdrew his hand from Loki’s grip.
“I’m not short. I’m highly portable.”
The prince gave Tony a look of mocking surprise, “Oh, forgive my incompetence.”
“Loki, would you like some coffee?”
Pepper turned back to the two men who finally broke their stare down and shifted attention to her.
Loki met woman’s inquiring look and nodded, unable to refuse the tempting liquid. Pepper took a cup from Stark’s hand and Tony instantly protested, “Hey, that’s my coffee!”
“Your coffee is in your other hand, this is my coffee, which I will gladly share with our guest.” With that she held out the cup to Loki and smiled when he nodded in gratitude.
“Jarvis, place an order for a set of clothes for Mister Loki, please.”
“Already done, miss Potts.”
“I will have to leave you for a while, I’m holding the board meeting and be back in two hours, meanwhile, Loki, please, feel yourself at home and rest well. And you, Tony,” she gave Stark a long meaningful look, “Behave.”
Tony didn’t get a chance to express his thoughts on the matter when Jarvis turned on the intercom, “Sir, Agent Coulson is on the line, and he wishes to speak to you.”
“ I’m sleeping and not to be wakened. Tell him to call back in three hours. Or better tomorrow.”
“Agent Coulson?” Tony watched how Loki suddenly started fidgeting and how color drained his face.
“I need to address him promptly, I need to…”
Tony’s hand on Loki’s shoulder silenced the prince. “Whoa, whoa, wait. You know him?”
“Yes, we are acquainted, he is in charge of the negotiations, and I need to…Why am I even explaining myself to you?”
Loki turned around and took a step, but Tony’s hand stopped him.
“Don’t even think of going there like that! You need to wait until your clothes arrive. Last thing I want right now is for Coulson to see you a la carte, he’s already been waiting for a chance to taze me. ”
“Give me some time, when you get fully dressed you can talk to Coulson as much as you want.”
Without second thought Tony turned around and strolled out of the room, silently praising himself for his self-restraint. Because god only knows how hard it was to stop his hand from tugging onto that blanket long enough for it to fall. That Loki guy’s reaction would have been to die for.
Tony sipped his coffee and chuckled. But then again, that sassy bastard might have gotten offended and done something bad to Tony, like throwing him out of the window or something.
Tony’s irritation flowed back. Loki was pretentious and infuriating, and in any other case Tony would’ve followed the golden rule of kicking out a stranger- no matter how pretty he or she was- on the morning after, not even bothering to remember the name. Only this time the morning after didn’t count because nothing happened the night before, plus Odinson (what kind of name was that anyway?) had incredible abilities and thus required further thorough investigation. A completely logical conclusion, on which Loki’s physical appearance and level of intelligence had no effect whatsoever. None at all.
Speaking of, what exactly was the connection between him and Coulson? Anther of Fury’s secret perfect soldier serum projects Stark wasn’t notified of perhaps?
Tony stopped in the corridor, glancing around to make sure he was alone. “Jarvis, did you test the specimen I provided yesterday?”
“Yes, sir. The blood and tissue analysis is complete.”
“I can conclude with 99% certainty that Mr. Odinson is not human.”
“Incredibly astute observation.”
“Thank you, sir.”
Tony rolled his eyes. He knew Jarvis was perfectly aware that was not a praise but sarcasm, and responded accordingly.
Oh, yes, Tony programmed him well.
“I again repeat, Mr. Odinson is not human. In fact, he is not indigenous to this planet.”
Stark stopped and stared ahead and slightly upwards. “What do you mean?”
“I ran a number of tests to single out DNA structure and genetic abnormalities but couldn’t find any because the sample is not present in my database. I compared Mr. Odinson’s DNA with all known species on the planet and found no match. After assuming that he is of unknown humanoid species I cross referenced mineral and chemical compounds of his blood with all the locations on the Earth in attempt to determine the place of his origin and again found none. Therefore I with high certainty conclude that he was not born and neither grew up on the planet Earth.”
“An alien? Jarvis, I’ve got myself an alien?”
“I believe you did, Mr. Stark.”
Tony felt a bright smile involuntarily split his face, “How exciting.”
Loki walked to the window and put his hands on a cold glass separating him and the outside void. The city was buzzing with life, scurrying humans, honking cars, even birds nesting on the roof tops. All of them busy with their petty every day errands, completely unaware of Loki’s inner turmoil.
He strained his eyesight- when the sun passed over the buildings and hid itself behind the tallest one, he could actually see the exact spot where the asteroid landed. There still was a barely visible whirlwind of light smoke and steam coming from the sight, but the trail of destruction already cooled, crystalized and turned into a massive scar on the city’s glass and concrete face. The spot was sealed off by cordons of firefighters and police cars, but that couldn’t stop the curious crowd that grew bigger with each passing second.
It was a great pleasure and satisfaction to see the city still standing, and mortals, those illiterate and irritating mortals protected from the certain death.
He just for once listened to his heart and not his head, played brave and noble and saved many lives- but at his own cost.
If it was Thor who had broken the rule, the whole problem would have been forgotten in a split of a second. Or shouted out and forgotten nonetheless. But with Loki…
The younger Odinson was well aware of his imperfections. He was not good enough. He wasn’t strong enough, aggressive enough, stubborn enough…He was imperfect son of the perfect family, always shadowed by his luminous brother, the whole realm thought so- from Thor’s dearest friends to the peasants and servants of the palace, no matter what Mother had been telling him. He had many weaknesses and thus needed to be perfect in everything else.
He already thought of several strategies and explanations, but before he could start implementing them he needed to know the reaction of parties involved.
Right at that time the door in the room opened again and an unfamiliar man came in, face almost hidden behind a pile of different size boxes.
“Sir, I’ve brought you some clothes Mr. Stark had ordered. “
“Thank you, you can leave them on the table.”
The man put the weight down and sighed in relief. “My name is Happy, I’m Mr. Stark’s driver.”
“Thank you, Happy, I shall try the clothes on now.”
“Sure.” The man stared at Loki for quite a while, as if a question- or something else was rolling off his tongue but he was desperately fighting it back, then smiled uncertainly and turned to leave.
“Hoppy,” Loki called out just in time.
“May I inquire…You’ve been outside today, correct? Have you seen the streets of the city, have you talked to the people? What do they think of me, of what I did yesterday? Please, I need to know.”
“Well, um…”The man’s face suddenly lit up brighter than the sun, and Loki looked at him, startled, not sure if he for real was seeing a look of complete admiration on the Midgardian’s face.
“You are a new national hero, sir. “
Stark lazily positioned himself behind the office table just in time when agent Coulson entered the room.
“I don’t remember letting you in.”
“I invited myself.”
Tony sipped coffee and smugly smiled at the agent, “What brings you here today? Oh, let me guess, you missed me infinitely and finally gave in to your feelings and decided to finally pay me a visit?”
Coulson didn’t even flinch, “I’m afraid you are overestimating my fondness of you, Mr. Stark. “
“Uh, thought so.”
“I’m here to see your guest.”
“You have to be more specific, Coulson, I have many guests- in fact, 20 stores of this building are all my guests.”
“I think you are well aware of what guest I’m talking about.”
“A, the alien one?”
Coulson arched an eyebrow.
Tony urged to ask if this brow arching was a part of special agent training.
“What? Didn’t expect your old buddy Stark to figure it out by himself?”
“You don’t follow the news, do you?”
“No. I usually make them.”
“Of course. Here, “ Agent reached out into his inner pocket and handed a fresh newspaper to Tony, “Take a look.”
“First man to ride Tony Stark. A bit tacky for my taste.”
“Two paragraphs down, please.”
“Umm…Oh, while Washington officials keep silent, the anonymous source in the armed forces says that the mystery man is in fact not a man, but a member of an alien diplomatic mission that arrived to Earth several days ago to negotiate a treaty with the human race. While the information remains unconfirmed, the evidence supports that it is, in fact, true. Meanwhile New York waits to greet his new hero. Wow, Coulson, cover up by telling the truth? Whose crack pot idea was that?”
“Mine. And it is not an idea, it is our new tactics. We withheld the information from the general public to prevent massive panic, but in light of events the best way is to use the publicity in our favor. “
“And you think your bosses will take it lightly?”
“At the present moment I am more concerned of organizing appropriate accommodations for Prince Loki.”
“Yes, he is of royal blood, and is a part of a very important mission.”
“If he is so important, why it took you so long to come here?”
Coulson sighed, “We had an emergency in New Jersey. A Hulk kind of emergency, to be exact.”
“Oh.” Tony twisted the coffee in his hand, suddenly interested in the label. “Did you…take care of it?”
“Lets just say, it disappeared itself.”
“Meanwhile my highest priority is taking care of the prince. And I would insist you be a good host for him for a time being.”
“Oh, I see, first you keep me in the dark about everything important, and now, when you are short on budget, you instantly remember of me? You can’t just order me to do something, it is not going to work that way.”
“I wasn’t hoping it would. In fact, I’m planning to relocate the prince to another residence.”
“Just an hour ago Mr. Wayne expressed a desire to help us in hosting the delegation, and was very generous with his offer.”
“Wayne? He is in Gotham, you want your prince to be stuck in Gotham?”
“No, I need him here. And Mr. Wayne has recently purchased a large property upstate New York.”
Stark started to fume, Coulson smiled almost invisibly.
“Basically, he has a more suitable residence for our guests.”
“And I have a foot up in his ass. The alien stays with me. I found him, I picked him up, I brought him here. Wayne is not getting him.”
“The delegation doesn’t consist of Loki alone, he also has a very…flamboyant older brother and several other people accompanying him.”
Stark shrugged, “That’s fine. I might have some spare space in the garage.”
“Loki stays with me.”
“Why is that sudden change of heart, Mr. Stark? I thought you couldn’t wait to get rid of me.”
Both men simultaneously turned to face the new comer. Loki was standing in the door frame, freshly dressed and pimped in his usual royal style. The clothes fit perfectly, hugging his slim figure with all the important places. Jarvis did a marvelous job picking up the style- the ensemble bore a striking resemblance to Loki’s royal clothes. Besides, all the dark colors and metal embellishments looked gorgeous, bringing out the contrast between pale skin, raven black hair and bright sky color eyes.
“What? No, never. I was generously concerned about your wellbeing, that’s it. “
“Just so? Was said concern the main consideration when you chose the clothes for me?”
“Why, are they not satisfactory to your taste, your highness?”
“Oh, satisfactory indeed, in fact I was about to express my gratitude and say that the artistic vision of these garments is incredible. Although I do find them a little too tight for my taste. You see, I feel disruption in blood circulation in my lover limbs.”
“Indeed, all three of them.”
Coulson chocked, Tony wiggled his eyebrows, “Perhaps you do require a massage?”
Loki shot back a blinding smile, “I think I’ll manage.”
Tony turned back to Coulson, “He stays with me. “ And walked out of the room, already talking to Jarvis about necessary arrangements.
Coulson watched Tony’s retrieving back for a second, than turned to Loki. The prince smiled apologetically, “Forgive my indecency, but I just can’t help it. Mr. Stark bestirs in me a relentless desire to tease him, I just can’t help it.”
Coulson nodded, “He bestirs some desires in me too, though they are rarely that benevolent. How do you feel?”
“I’m well, though I have to offer my sincere apologies about the breach of protocol. I should have been more considerate …”
“I’m afraid I don’t understand what you are talking about.”
Loki looked flabbergasted. “The request you made before the negotiations started…”
“No, I know what you are referring to, I just don’t see any reason to apologize. Through the course of one day you had aided us a number of times and saved countless lives while risking your own. For that alone we –and I mean the people of this planet- ought to express our gratitude, not to accept your apology. And as to the blown cover up- we might overlook that minor detail- the unplanned publicity might actually aid your cause.”
Loki felt his mood lighten up and all the worries disappearing, and smiled, wide and genuine.
“All is well, then?”
“All is well.”
“Agent Coulson, what about my brother? “
“He is unharmed. Transporter will arrive in about an hour. He got stuck after striking down the smaller asteroid over the forest, took us a while to find him.”
Loki frowned, “Why didn’t he use Mjolnir and fly back?”
“He was aiding the locals.”
The prince smiled, “Of course he was.”
Coulson eyed a cup with cold coffee in Loki’s hand, “ We still have some time before the carrier arrives, would you mind joining me for a breakfast?”
“I would be delighted.”